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phikappa
04-01-2008, 09:02 AM
Health Clubs Look to Kids to Bulk Up Membership
Programs Lure Children
Of Existing Clients
As Well as Outsiders
By ARDEN DALE

Linda Hom takes her kids to the gym when she works out -- and they get a workout of their own.

Ms. Hom, a free-lance fashion designer from South Orange, N.J., signed up Matthew, 7 years old, and Sydnie, 9, for Tae Kwon Do classes at Motion Fitness Club, the health club where she has been a member since 2004.

The kids take a 45-minute class three times a week. And, says Sydnie, "the adults don't really bother us because we're doing our own thing and they're doing theirs."

Having the kids join the health club, says Ms. Hom, 42, "was a way for me to not tell, but show them that I work out, too, to be healthy." She adds that "it's a nice combination for a busy parent to have that option of working out at the same time."

Market Expansion

Local gyms like Motion Fitness as well as larger health-club franchises like Town Sports International, which runs the New York Sports Clubs, Philadelphia Sports Clubs, Boston Sports Clubs and Washington Sports Clubs, are expanding their offerings to attract a new clientele: kids.

Parents are increasingly looking for ways to keep kids active as childhood obesity, and the health complications that stem from it, have become a growing problem in the U.S. So, seeing an opportunity to expand their market, these establishments are stepping in and offering specific classes for children of various ages, including gymnastics, martial arts and swimming. They also are carving out times to allow kids to use gym equipment and even work out with a personal trainer. And parents get the added benefit of being able to work out at the same time.

Branching out beyond a core demographic is a way for established businesses to boost customer ranks. It can reinforce a relationship with existing customers by getting other family members to use a service. And it creates a market for new customers. In the case of the health clubs, not only are members signing up their children, but lots of kids from the outside also are joining.

But moving beyond a core audience has its risks. For one, bringing in new clientele like children could alienate existing customers who liked things as they were. Also, a business will need to ensure that it is effectively marketing itself to all of its demographic groups.

"Only 15% of the population in this country belongs to health clubs, and everyone has been looking for a way to attract the other 85%," says John Craig, editor of Fitness Business News, a monthly trade newspaper and Web site based in Yarmouth, Maine. "The kids market is an offshoot of that effort."

Carving Out Slow Times

Myles Berg, the owner of Motion Fitness of Millburn, N.J., says the club has offered memberships at a discounted rate to kids since it opened in 2001. The program, called In Gear, allows kids 12 and over to work out during the gym's slow times -- after school and on weekend afternoons.

"We carved out times when they wouldn't be competing with adults" for space, says Mr. Berg, 38.

There are two Tae Kwon Do classes -- for 3?- to 5-year-olds and 5- to 12-year-olds. In addition, a child as young as 8 can work out with a personal trainer at any time of the day for the same rate as an adult.

"The thought process," Mr. Berg says, "was that there are a huge percentage of kids who don't exercise. This offers an alternative way for kids to exercise."

Interest From Outside

Health-club chains also are carving out programs for kids.

Town Sports has a program called Sports Clubs for Kids, which includes gymnastics, dance and even swim and tennis lessons in some facilities. Each Philadelphia Sports Club, for instance, has an average of 300 kids in swim lessons per week. Some clubs also offer Ignite, a sports-performance program that helps individuals train for a specific sport.

Cheryl Jones, vice president, programs and services at New York-based Town Sports, says the company puts programs into clubs based on available space, and management tries to limit the traffic kids have with adults. Activities for preschoolers are held in the mornings, and programs for kids in elementary and high school are held in the evenings.

Ms. Jones, 53, is the architect of the program. She had been managing kids and adult fitness programs at a health club in Chalfont, Pa., when it was acquired in 2000 by Town Sports and turned into a Philadelphia Sports Club. She says the kids' program generated about half of the club's overall revenue.

So, Town Sports asked her and an associate to package the program and expand it to other clubs.

Ms. Jones says interest in the program usually starts with members who have children, but the clubs eventually attract a larger percentage of nonmember families. She says a total of 2,600 kids are involved in the program across the company's 26 Sports Clubs for Kids locations.

Swimming and Sports

Among those kids are Joe, 5, and twins Tom and Elizabeth, 3. The siblings take All-Stars sports classes, which help build skills in a certain sport, and swimming lessons at the Boston Sports Club in Wellesley, Mass.

Their mother, Rebecca Cahaly, says she either watches the children take the classes or she goes and works out on the treadmill as well as other machines.

"The most important thing is that my kids are really comfortable being there," says Ms. Cahaly, 38, of Wellesley, who is a part-time consultant on developing nonprofits. "They learn so much from doing an activity, and it fosters independence."

freebirdmac
04-01-2008, 09:22 AM
And you have a problem with this?

liftiron68
04-01-2008, 09:25 AM
I think that is a great idea, they are not teaching weight training (which IMO should wait until 15ish), they are getting the kids active like back in the day when I was a kid. I NEVER sat in the house playing video games, and this IMO is a great way to get kids moving and healthier.

djl_ottawa
04-01-2008, 09:37 AM
When I was at the YMCA, it was great seeing kids doing weight training, and trainers showing them how do it it proper.

I started weight training in my last 3 years in High School. I had a great coach. He would even skip his lunch hour and help us out (well. He ate while teaching us and for some of us who had not eaten yet it was hard lol).

I wish my gym allowed kids to come work out. One thing I noticed from the YMCA, these kids have respect for it. They are not loud or disrespectful. Heck, I don't know how many times I saw them stealing glances at folks working out, and then seeing them 10 minutes later trying the same thing out.

The obesity rate in the US and Canada (hell, the WORLD) has gotten so bad because our kids don't do enough. I WISH when I was a kid there were gyms open for me. I remember when I was about 12 there was a new Gold's Gym that opened just down the road. I used to walk there and sit across the parking lot and watch the folks in there work out.

NuclearArms
04-01-2008, 11:11 AM
Don't see much wrong with this.

Keeping the kids busy and constructively challenging them is great. Sure as hell a 'Nintendo' culture for kids.

Guff
04-01-2008, 11:18 AM
Just yesterday on my way home I had to drive around a couple of young girls who were walking in the street. I'm guessing they were in their early teens and wow were they fat!! A 13 yr old girl should not weight 140 lbs. and I bet BOTH of them did. I see nothing wrong with gyms trying to attract children.

Olie
04-01-2008, 11:18 AM
Better than grouping up in front of the stop and robs and creating trouble or sitting on the couch all day staring into oblivion. My children come down to the gym all the time, helps them burn off that extra energy and teaches them discipline.

Wooly_Ace
04-01-2008, 11:18 AM
I think it's a great idea!!!

chodan9
04-01-2008, 11:20 AM
It is infinately better than just letting them just run amok while the adult works out. Which does happen.

Spiceygamble
04-01-2008, 11:36 AM
I'd rather see organized classed & activities for the kids to do.
Parents bringing their kids to the gym(which they always seems to do anyway) are supposed to be focusing on their workouts, not their rugrats. At the same time, no one else in the gym wants to feel tempted to toss a weight across the room to shut up a bored kid, either.
Teach them early, give them guidance & structure... most of all keep them moving, (wear them out-lol!).

:)

ed819
04-01-2008, 11:41 AM
This is a great idea. :)

With the obesity problem we are faced with today, anything that gets kids involved in any physical activity get TWO THUMBS UP with me.

chodan9
04-01-2008, 12:03 PM
no one else in the gym wants to feel tempted to toss a weight across the room to shut up a bored kid, either.



yeah!!
good idea!
a weight landing on a childs head should shut em up!!! ;)

Joe Go
04-01-2008, 12:42 PM
They have been doing this at my gym for years. It works out great. If you don't want to workout with the kids then go early in the afternoon. After about 4-5pm the kids run the place.

The gym had to do small things like take the manual buttons off the tv's and post more signs saying what age limit was allowed where, but the kids keep the place open.

No complaints here.

bassing68
04-01-2008, 12:49 PM
I think that is a great idea, they are not teaching weight training (which IMO should wait until 15ish), they are getting the kids active like back in the day when I was a kid. I NEVER sat in the house playing video games, and this IMO is a great way to get kids moving and healthier.


Better than grouping up in front of the stop and robs and creating trouble or sitting on the couch all day staring into oblivion. My children come down to the gym all the time, helps them burn off that extra energy and teaches them discipline.

Exactly. I remember when I was a kid we were depressed if we had to stay inside due to a rainy day. Hell, even 10 below we were outside sledding and stuff. Even in good temps I gotta chase my kids outside. This gives them something to do while parents work out. Besides, many parents wouldn't be able to workout if not for things like this.

domineaux
04-01-2008, 01:11 PM
It isn't good to allow minors into the gym with adults to train.

Several reasons:

As adults we know there are pervs at the gym, and they're always stalking adults.

Adults can handle them

Kiddie pervs go where the kids are, always been a problem with kid sports.

Kids aren't competent to deal or handle adults.

----------------------------

I was a youth coach, and I can tell you things I saw in my years of coaching. Never have one kid with you at anytime,except your own kid. Keep your hands off the kids, and carefully pick your words with them.

If you had a kid that was a problem you moved him on before anything could get conjured up in his or his parents minds. You can't believe how quick a parent can create crud in their mind when it comes to their kids.

If a kid accuses you of misconduct... there is no way you can ever be innocent. If you are accused by a kid, you are friggin guilty and that's it.

Look at all the television crap about teenage boys having sex with their teachers... Yeah, and we all know what those teenage boys are thinking all through puberty. Yeah, those teenage boys are guiltless. They're lovin' it and then they find out there just might be something they can get out of it. $$$

I have compassion for the teenage girls in those situations, but not the boys. Back in my brain pan someplace I remember being very hormonal as a teenager and girls were the hot commodity we all want to get into. LOL

Minors working out, showering and using the gym facilities without parental monitoring.... I am completely opposed.

There are some creepy parents out there that would just use the gym for a babysitter, letting someone else be responsible for their kids.

-----------------------------------

If it goes there I guess commonsense would dictate I build a home gym.

Sometimes things do go to far, and we have to have good sense to make best choices.

-----------------------------------

Just got a funny thought. What if minors were allowed, but they had to wear a certain color shirt or something. Then everyone would know they were twit minors and ignore them. LOL

The ACLU would probably put a stop to the practice for violation of civil rights. You can't win for losing... LOL

alec_braithwait
04-01-2008, 02:31 PM
I used to go to a family YMCA; it was great to see all the kids running around outside playing basket ball or baseball, rather than playing on the X-box or other console.

You just had to watch what time you arrived, get it wrong and you would get run over by the stampede of kids leaving to meet their parents outside.

Children under 14 were not allowed in the weights rooms and there was a separate adult?s only locker room.

The staff had really thought about how to integrate adults and families into the gym.

We need to see more of this

dsharp9000
04-01-2008, 04:18 PM
It isn't good to allow minors into the gym with adults to train.

Several reasons:

As adults we know there are pervs at the gym, and they're always stalking adults.

Adults can handle them

Kiddie pervs go where the kids are, always been a problem with kid sports.

Kids aren't competent to deal or handle adults.

----------------------------

I was a youth coach, and I can tell you things I saw in my years of coaching. Never have one kid with you at anytime,except your own kid. Keep your hands off the kids, and carefully pick your words with them.

If you had a kid that was a problem you moved him on before anything could get conjured up in his or his parents minds. You can't believe how quick a parent can create crud in their mind when it comes to their kids.

If a kid accuses you of misconduct... there is no way you can ever be innocent. If you are accused by a kid, you are friggin guilty and that's it.

Look at all the television crap about teenage boys having sex with their teachers... Yeah, and we all know what those teenage boys are thinking all through puberty. Yeah, those teenage boys are guiltless. They're lovin' it and then they find out there just might be something they can get out of it. $$$

I have compassion for the teenage girls in those situations, but not the boys. Back in my brain pan someplace I remember being very hormonal as a teenager and girls were the hot commodity we all want to get into. LOL

Minors working out, showering and using the gym facilities without parental monitoring.... I am completely opposed.

There are some creepy parents out there that would just use the gym for a babysitter, letting someone else be responsible for their kids.

-----------------------------------

If it goes there I guess commonsense would dictate I build a home gym.

Sometimes things do go to far, and we have to have good sense to make best choices.

-----------------------------------

Just got a funny thought. What if minors were allowed, but they had to wear a certain color shirt or something. Then everyone would know they were twit minors and ignore them. LOL

The ACLU would probably put a stop to the practice for violation of civil rights. You can't win for losing... LOL

you seem like "the glass is half empty" type of guy

domineaux
04-01-2008, 06:01 PM
you seem like "the glass is half empty" type of guy

So you're the shrink for these forums!

Maybe you should address the topic as I did, then we can all ponder your insight and experience. LOL